The Mirror's Reflection

Title: The Mirror's Reflection
Rating: MA (some chapters will be T)
Summary: This is a story of a journey that Mia and Clarisse take that brings them love, heartbreak, deception and threatens the continuation of the Renaldi rule. It also forces each person in the story to take a good hard look at their reflection in the mirror and to determine if they like what they see. It is set between PD1 and PD2 and occurs the year of Mia's 20th birthday - one year before she would come to Genovia to stay in PD2.
Disclaimer: We all know I don't own any of these characters (ok there are a couple in here that are all mine!!) but for the most part - all the rights, etc. belong to Meg Cabot and Disney.
Author's Note: This story is a bit AU (Alternate Universe) in that I made no attempt to try to connect it or explain how it fit in with events that happened a year later when PD2 takes place...that's it though...everything else is the characters as we know them.

This story is inspired by the song "Everything I Am" by Gotthard. If you'd like to listen to the song, you can check it out at

And, last but certainly not least, is my dearest beta - my Sweets leetah47.

The Mirror’s Reflection - chapter 1

The door creaked open and a figure slid into the shadows of the marbled halls. She peeked around the corner to see the guard dutifully standing watch - unaware that she had just escaped out of the “back” door. A slight thrill ran through her as she slipped into the library, half way to her destination. His note had given her instructions that would lead her to a secret rendezvous point where they would have some time alone. She moved the book entitled “The Evil Men Do” and heard the scraping of wood against the floor. The dust that was disturbed by the movement wafted up into her nostrils causing her to fight off a sneeze. She knew she had to be completely quiet; otherwise, any number of security measures that had been put in place to protect her and her family would reveal her late night excursion and bring it to an end even before it started. Feeling her way blindly through the corridor, she finally came upon the knob that led to the hidden room. Slight tingles of apprehension were outweighed by anticipation and excitement. She exhaled a slow, deep breath, opened the door and stepped inside.

The room had no visible light source other than what appeared to be a mirror. She noted with curiosity that she couldn’t see her reflection. Further scrutiny showed it was actually a window that allowed a small amount of light to filter in from the next room. Two stools had been placed in front of the window - almost as though it was anticipated there would be something to see. She felt a presence behind her and recognized the cologne instantly. Her heartbeat increased as his arms went around her as he whispered. “I’m so glad you came – I’ve been waiting. I have something very special planned for you tonight.”

She turned in his arms and kissed him soundly. “I wouldn’t have missed this.”

“I promise it will be a night you will never forget.” He kissed her again and then took her hand and led her towards the chairs. He guided her into one and sat down in the other. His arm went protectively around her. She realized almost immediately that they must be on the other side of a one way mirror that allowed them to see in, but not the other way around. The room had a large cherry bed that was situated only about twenty feet away from the viewing room. The bed was adorned with large spindles spaced about six inches apart throughout the high curve of both the head and footboards. Candles were lit and placed on the night stands on either side, casting the room in a mysterious dance of shadow and light. She didn’t recall ever seeing this room before. She determined it must be a secret room – just as the one she now found herself in.

Her eyes widened as she watched a woman enter the room. Though detail was hard to see in the darkness outside of the candlelight, she was sure there was another person in the room with her as she seemed to be looking “at” someone. Moments later, the man stepped closer and began to kiss the woman on the neck. The woman allowed her robe to be removed and tossed carelessly on the bed before he continued to lavish attention on her newly exposed flesh. Watching the way the woman’s body moved in poetic counterpoint with the man’s told her that, while she couldn’t be certain the two were lovers, this was not the first time they had shared such an intimate moment.

The future Queen of Genovia had to stifle a gasp as the couple moved backwards out of the shadows into the candlelight where their identities became known. It was her Grandmother and Joseph!

She turned towards the man sitting next to her and whispered. “We have to get out of here. That’s Gramma and Joe.”

She felt soft lips on her neck, momentarily making her forget that Joseph was making the same moves on her Grandmother. It only took a few moments, though, for sensibility to reassert itself. She started to pull away and admonish him when she felt his grip around her tighten. He whispered back. “I went to a lot of trouble to arrange all of this, Your Majesty, I think we should stay and watch.”

Whether it was the way he said it or the way he held her, she couldn’t be sure, but she felt a small knot start to form in her stomach. “Please, André, this is wrong – they think they are alone.”

His whisper took on a slightly menacing tone causing a chill to run down her spine and settle deep within her body. “Can you be so sure of that?”

The cold steel tip of a very sharp knife came to rest against the satin of her robe, pressing it uncomfortably into her rib cage. In that moment, she desperately wished she had not been so effective at evading her security. Realizing her options for escape were non-existent at the moment, she grudgingly turned back to the scene unfolding in the next room.

The pair had progressed somewhat during Mia’s exchange with André. Joseph’s shirt had been removed and her Grandmother’s blue satin night shirt had been unbuttoned to the point that it really was not providing any true covering. Clarisse’s ivory skin reflected the flickering flames; the black satin of her lingerie seemed a stark contrast to the creamy whiteness of her flesh. Mia tried to pretend it was a movie with characters playing out a love scene rather than her closest family member in Genovia - a family member who, besides being the current reigning Queen of Genovia, had rarely shown much outward emotion or affection, but who now seemed very capable of a passionate response. A lump formed in her throat as they tumbled onto the bed, their bodies tangling in a manner that left no doubt as to why they were there. Mia decided to try again. “Please…I don’t see what can be gained from forcing me to watch this.”

He chuckled before his voice turned serious. “You must learn patience, Princess. Otherwise, you will most certainly fail in whatever path your life takes you.”

She sighed and turned towards the mirror again, focusing her attention inward, trying to ascertain what wrong choices she had made that had brought them to this point.

**C/J ~ J/C**

***1 month ago***

“You look beautiful, Your Highness.” Alexandra offered as Mia slowly twirled in front of the full length mirror. The deep purple gown complimented her skin tone nicely and the cut of the dress definitely made her feel older than her almost twenty years. Paolo had been gracious enough to stop by and style her hair in a simple up-do leaving ringlets of curls falling gracefully around her neck. The medium sized tiara sparkled with diamonds and tanzanite that accented the dress perfectly. She had foregone any further elaborate jewelry, settling for the simple gold chain and locket that her Grandmother had given her on her sixteenth birthday and the charm bracelet that displayed mementos from past trips and, of course, her best friend, Lilly.

She smiled graciously at the young woman who had been assigned to serve as her ladies’ maid during this visit as well as her summer visit this year. She missed Abigail, the young woman who had been with her the past few years and with whom she had become close friends. She had been informed that a family emergency had called her away and she would not be able to return for several months. She let out a slow breath; she might as well make friends wherever she could – something told her that true friends would be harder to come by the closer she got to the throne of Genovia.

She thought of her Grandmother…other than Charlotte and Joseph, she really didn’t have any close friends. Thousands may “know” her, but only a select few truly knew the woman behind the Queen. “Thank you, Alexandra. I suppose we should get going. Gramma says a Queen is never late; but then reminds me that I am not yet Queen.”

Alexandra smiled, but did not laugh at the Princess’ attempt at humor. Instead she curtsied (which also bothered Mia) and answered. “Yes ma’am, we should go.”

**C/J ~ J/C**

After she was formally announced as she entered through the double doors, she quickly surveyed those who had been invited to share in an evening with the royal family. Mia was pleasantly surprised to find that her Grandmother had arranged for it to be a “younger” group of party-goers, minus the normal politicians and dignitaries. While all of the guests were certainly well connected in Genovian society, or would be at some point in their near futures, they were still of the age that their socialization was not filled with hidden agendas and political maneuvers to further their own family and place in high society.

Mia hugged her Grandmother tightly. “The guest list looks amazingly like people my age! To what do I owe this unexpected surprise?”

Clarisse smiled adoringly at her Granddaughter and then cut her eyes towards Charlotte. “You should thank her – it was her idea. She assured me that you would focus more on your Queen lessons if you were allowed to have a night of just ‘fun’.”

Mia shot Charlotte a grateful look and mouthed, “thank you.” before turning back to her grandmother. Noticing her attire, she asked. “Are you not staying for the party?”

Clarisse was dressed in a crème colored pair of pants with matching jacket that covered a baby pink soft satin shell; still classy, but definitely not official party wear. “I’m afraid not, dear. You and your friends will have more fun if I am not around. Besides,” she smiled in Joseph’s direction as he stood stoically next to the door, eyes constantly surveying the room. Sensing her gaze come to rest on his for a moment, he looked in her direction and returned the smile. “My head of security has promised to take me for an evening walk in my rose garden. It’s such an exciting time when the buds are just bursting with life behind the green protective layer of leaves. It won’t be long now before they open up and fill the garden with a rainbow of beautiful colors.”

Mia smiled at her Grandmother’s excitement. She loved Genovia, her family, and her roses more than anything else. She stole a glance over in Joseph’s direction and added him to the list of those her Grandmother held close to her heart. “Well you kids have fun and don’t stay out too late.”

Clarisse laughed at the maternal tone. She took Amelia’s hand and squeezed it. “I shall try to behave if you do the same.” Before Mia could even feign indignance, she continued. “Charlotte will stay to keep an eye on things – so if you need anything just ask her. Have a wonderful time, darling.”

Mia surveyed the room again, noticing her good friend Princess Asana and several handsome young men. “I’ll be fine and I’m sure everyone will have a great time – you know how to throw a party, Gramma.”

Mia waited a few more moments, watching her Grandmother leave. She watched the tender exchange between her and Joseph as he extended his arm to escort her. While she couldn’t be certain, she would bet her finest tiara that there would be more than admiration of roses going on tonight. She thought about how happy her Grandmother was when Joe was around and determined she would work even harder on her Queen lessons to make sure she was ready to assume the responsibility of the throne thereby freeing her Grandmother to love whomever she chose.

The reflection complete and decision made, she scanned the crowd until she found her friend and squealed. “Asana!! Are you ready to party?”


The party had been in full swing for about a half an hour when her Prince Charming approached her. “Your highness?” A deep, thick voice called.

Mia turned her attention from the delectable plate of chocolates that she had been trying to decide what an appropriate number for a future Queen to consume would be. “Yes?”

Her vision was filled with a treat more decadent than the chocolates she had just been trying to choose from. He was approximately six feet tall; his skin a smooth brown that was crowned by short black hair. The masculine scent of his cologne seemed a perfect match for his personality, which exuded confidence and a worldliness that she had yet to acquire. While his tuxedo attempted to hide it, she was certain that there was a muscular physique just below the material and she had to catch herself from fantasizing about how it would feel against …

Her hand…was slowly being lifted until the velvet of his full lips swept slowly across its back. The voice continued. “Allow me to introduce myself. My name is André Crawford and I must confess to having crashed your party.” His teeth were pearly white and perfect as his smile became evident after his statement.

Mia tried to force the school girl giddiness of her high school years away from her conscious mind and behave like the Princess her Grandmother had trained her to be. “A party crasher, you say. Should I call security?” She returned his smile.

He tucked her hand, still clasped with his, into the crook of his arm. Before they started to walk, he reached over and selected the finest of all the chocolates on display. He held it in front of her mouth, waiting for her to accept the delicacy. Her eyes flitted around quickly to make sure no one was paying any attention to her and then opened her mouth to accept his gift. The morsel melted on her palette and the smooth, rich taste flooded her senses. She had never tasted anything quite so … “mmmm” She lifted her eyes to meet his. “That was exquisite.”

“I knew it would be the perfect match for your exquisite beauty.”

She laughed as she had never, in two decades, considered herself exquisite. “So you were confessing to crashing my party, I believe.”

“Well only partly. I wasn’t on the official guest list; I’m the ‘guest’ part of Lionel Motaz and guest.” He admitted with a laugh.

“You know Lionel?”

“We go to school together; and, while I’m confessing, I might as well tell you the whole truth.”

She laughed. “I’m listening.”

“Should we go to the throne room where I can kneel at your feet and ask forgiveness after my confession? I mean I should keep with protocol and do this properly.” The mirth was in his eyes, even though he tried to look serious.

“I think we’ll forego protocol tonight – it is a party after all. So how did you get Lionel to bring you instead of some beautiful young woman?”

André cast a doubtful look in Lionel’s direction, knowing Mia would know what he was thinking about Lionel’s chances at getting a beautiful date. He returned his attention fully on her. “I bribed him. I told him I would help him with some of his security training and practice if he would let me come to the party tonight so I could meet the beautiful woman from America.”

Mia’s heart was fluttering and she was flattered that this gorgeous young man was interested in her. She did not miss that he had not said beautiful Princess and was grateful for his choice of words. Perhaps this was someone else who might befriend the woman first and then the future Queen. “I’m afraid that even though we aren’t completely following protocol tonight, the only way I can offer forgiveness is if you offer me something in exchange. As I understand the customs of Genovia, it is traditional to offer something for my table.” She teased.

André kissed her hand again and asked. “May I offer a dance? I come from a long line of distinguished dancers and would love to give of that talent to my future queen.”

“I accept.”

They moved onto the dance floor just as a slow love song began to play. André pulled her close and led her in the dance as she had never been led before. Mia was pleasantly surprised at how fluidly they moved together. She had obviously been learning something from all those hours on the dance floor with Joseph; and André’s skills, while still not as good as Joseph’s, were not far behind. She knew now how her Grandmother must feel when she danced with Joseph – two bodies moving as one. She had to strongly fight the desire to say…


“Kiss me?” She asked tentatively, still unsure of herself and where she stood with the man sitting beside her.

His hand moved slowly up her arm, gently caressing her neck and chin before coming to rest on her cheek. His thumb stroked the soft skin of her lips. A small sigh of pleasure escaped her slightly parted mouth as she felt each ridge on the pad of his thumb as it travelled across her lips.

“I’ve been waiting all night to hear those words from you.”

“Then we shouldn’t waste a moment more; this magical evening will end soon.”

“And reality will rear its ugly head once again.”

“Oh Joseph.” Not wanting to lose one more second, Clarisse leaned in to close the distance between them. Shared murmurs of pleasure were exchanged as their mouths found solace in this basic physical connection. A connection that they were learning they could not go long without.

About six months ago, they had finally acknowledged to each other that it was impossible to deny the growing attraction between them. Neither knew what could really be done about it; but just saying it out loud had lifted a heavy weight from them as individuals and their working relationship. Fortunately or unfortunately, there were few precious private moments that afforded them the opportunity to explore where such an attraction would take them. Tonight was the rare exception with Amelia, Charlotte and the rest of the security detail all occupied with the party…it had left Clarisse and Joseph some much needed alone time.

Joseph slowly deepened the kiss, exploring and learning as he went along. The number of beats per minute of his heart increased in tempo as he felt Clarisse give in to the kiss. Her body leaned further into his, her softness a pleasant contrast to his muscular body. They kissed as well as they danced; each partner adjusting the angle or intensity of their mouths as needed. His tongue glided across her full lips, tasting the faint traces of the gloss that she had applied earlier. He uttered a small, “mmmm” in response to the pleasant taste.

Clarisse was slowly being swept away by Joseph’s gentle kiss. She could taste his masculine scent and grew hungry for more. His touch was light and evoked a deep need within her that cried out for more. Whether holding back was a courtesy or by design to drive her mad with her desire for him, she couldn’t be sure. All she knew was that she was slowly and ever so certainly becoming addicted to the wonderful man sitting beside her.

After what seemed an eternity of languorous kisses wherein they learned more of the sounds and tastes of pleasure, Joseph broke the kiss. His forehead rested against hers as he tried to slow his pulse. He licked his lips, which now seemed incredibly dry in comparison to a few minutes before when they were smothered by her soft mouth, and moaned softly at her lingering taste. “You will be the death of me, woman.”

She chuckled softly, letting her hands glide slowly up and down his arms. “Not if you kill me first.”

“I suppose I should get you home. I’ve heard that your security detail can be quite obstinate if you are out late.”

“You have no idea!” She teased.

As they walked slowly back to the palace, both felt an odd sense of peace as well as a keen sense of unrest. The chemistry between them was becoming harder and harder to resist; and, although they had precious private time together, the need to find an outlet to abate the physical yearning was slowly driving them both to distraction.

When they arrived at the door of her suite, he gently lifted her hand and kissed it. He softly offered…


“I had a wonderful time tonight.” André said before softly kissing her hand.

They were standing in a recessed alcove just off of the main foyer. They had been inseparable since their first dance. Conversation had flowed easily, dancing had been second nature, and the flirtatious looks were in abundance. Mia had been very grateful that there were no “queenly duties” she had to perform tonight as it was certain that she would have been reprimanded severely by her Grandmother for her lack of attention to matters of state.

He continued. “My friends will never believe that I won the affections of Princess Amelia…even if just for the evening.”

Mia smiled warmly at him. “Please, call me Mia…I prefer Mia.”

André was leaning against the marbled wall and, using the hand he still had clasped with hers, he pulled her towards him until she was only inches from his body. His voice was deep and very alluring. “Mmmm…Mia; I prefer to kiss you somewhere besides your hand. If I submit to your preferences, will you submit to mine?”

“I believe that can be arranged.” She answered before closing the minute remaining distance between them. His kiss was neither soft nor demanding…the pressure just enough to send her senses reeling. She felt her foot begin to “pop” and knew that he must be something very special. Her arms slipped around his neck and she leaned further into the kiss. She could feel his hands increase their pressure on her back. She felt like the Princess in the fairy tale, finally being allowed to kiss her Prince Charming.

After entirely too short a time, he broke the kiss. His mysterious dark eyes found hers and a slight smile crossed his face. “I do believe I enjoy negotiating with the future Queen. May I be so bold as to ask if I can see you again?”

“Only if you make sure you bring something for my table.” She teased.

He placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. “I’m certain that can be arranged. I’ll call tomorrow to see when your schedule will permit.” He promised before squeezing her shoulders and then walking away.

Mia leaned back, letting the cool marble temper the heat rising in her body from his touch. She smiled…maybe she would be able to fill her spring break with something more than lessons.


“Amelia?!” Clarisse called her daydreaming granddaughter for a second time.

“What? Oh, sorry, Gramma.” Mia replied, without really meaning it. Her face still held the look of a young woman who was miles away…dreaming of anything but Parliamentary rules of order.

Realizing that she was losing the battle, but not wanting to lose the war, Clarisse negotiated. “If I let you out of this lesson so you can spend time with your young friend, do you promise to focus on your lesson tonight? It’s an important one.”

Mia leapt at the opportunity for retreat. “I promise!”

Clarisse called after her disappearing form. “Seven o’clock. Don’t be late!”

Joseph smiled at the look of exasperation on his Queen’s face. “What has gotten into her, Joseph?” She asked as she removed her glasses and rubbed the bridge of her nose.

He stood behind her, gently massaging her shoulders, enjoying the look of relief and contentment that spread across her face at his touch. “In about fifteen minutes, I’ll show you.”

“Mmmm I’ll give you fourteen minutes to stop that then.” Clarisse kept her eyes closed as Joseph worked his magic on her tense shoulders. His fingers were adept at knowing just how to touch her to relieve the pain…or bring pleasure…the thought came unbidden to her mind. She allowed herself just a few moments to think about what it would be like to feel his fingers dancing across her skin – touching her in places she had only dreamed about…places that had long forgotten the feel of a man’s touch.

His hand skimmed from her shoulder, down her arm until his fingers grasped hers. “Let me show you why your granddaughter can’t focus this week.”

She allowed him to lead her to the window where he pointed out the car pulling up. André, the young man she had been talking about nonstop since the party three days ago, had come to visit her again. Clarisse leaned back against Joseph as his arms went around her waist as they watched the scene unfold two stories below them.

André picked Mia up and swirled her around, the laughter reaching the half open window. As their lips met in celebration of each other, Clarisse felt soft lips on her neck. She sighed. “Oh the excitement of young love.”

Joseph kisses deepened, causing her to moan softly at the sensation. He stopped his efforts long enough to murmur against her skin. “Oh I don’t know…there’s something to be said for the joys of more mature love and attraction.”

Clarisse leaned her head to the left, allowing him better access. “Indeed.”

Joseph could smell the mingling of her perfume and shampoo as he nestled his face further into the curve of her neck. He was quickly becoming intoxicated by her scent. He felt her sigh and then pull away. She turned, still well within his embrace, her hand coming to rest on his cheek. “I’m sorry; continuation of this most pleasant diversion will have to wait until we have some…”


“Privacy – that’s what we need, André.” Mia whispered as she felt several eyes watching their most recent display of affection.

“They’re just jealous.” He teased.

She slapped his arm. “I’m serious. They watch me like a hawk.”

“Let’s go to the fountain…at least then only Shades is nearby. I will also make you a promise.” André offered as they started to walk towards the large hedge maze.

Mia held his hand with one of hers and her purse in the other. “What’s that?”

“I will try to use whatever means available to me to try to find some ways for us to be truly alone when you come back for the summer.”

Mia stopped and looked at him. “You think you can really do that?”

His look was intense. “I have my sources. Finding a way to get you alone will be my sole purpose in life.”

Mia studied him for a moment, not quite sure how to take his statement. Deciding humor was always a good approach, she smiled. “Are you always so intense?”

The spell was broken as he pulled her by the hand to run towards the fountain. When they arrived, slightly breathless, he kissed her passionately before answering. “Only when it comes you, Princess.”

Mia smiled. “That sounds wonderful.”

André walked her over to a nearby bench. “So were you planning on going on an outing?”


“You brought your purse.” He gestured towards the item sitting next to her on the bench.

“Right! I almost forgot. I wanted to show you something.” She opened up the purse and pulled out a long blue jewelry box. She opened it carefully, a slender gold chain and locket rested on a pillow of soft satin.

“It’s beautiful.” He exclaimed.

“It’s for my Grandmother. Her birthday is in two days. We are having dinner that night to celebrate before I leave.” She opened the locket displaying two pictures. On the left was one of the pictures that she and her Grandmother had taken in the photo booth during the day in San Francisco; the other side, Clarisse and Joseph the night of the Independence Day Ball. Lilly had been taking pictures and had a wonderful candid of them together while they were dancing.

“What a thoughtful gift, Mia.” He said as he surveyed the jewelry.

“Thank you. I wanted to do something special for her.”

“You should have it engraved.”

“I thought about that. It’s hard to do something like that as a surprise when…”

“Your every move is watched?”


“Why I don’t I take the necklace and have it inscribed for you?”

“You would do that for me?”

“It would be my pleasure.” André enjoyed the way her face lit up with excitement. She really had not grasped that she was royalty and could simply order someone to do this task for her. He found it rather endearing.


“Right on time, I see.” Clarisse exclaimed as Mia came running into the library.

“With at least two seconds to spare.” Mia grinned, hugging her Grandmother. “Thanks for agreeing to some time off for me, I appreciate it.”

“You’re welcome, dear.”

Mia happily sighed, sinking into the deep cushions of the sofa. “I mean, you remember what it was like…to be so swept away by all those happy romantic feelings that you can’t think straight.”

Clarisse thought about that statement for a moment before honestly answering. “No, Amelia, I’m sorry, I can’t.”

Mia sat up and looked at her Grandmother, a distressed look on her face as she realized what she had just said. “Oh Gramma, I’m sorry.”

Clarisse smiled and patted her on the hand. “But I’m certainly glad you can. Now can we get started?”

“Sure. So what lesson is tonight?”

“We are going to learn about Genovian history…”

Mia sighed heavily. “Seriously?”

Clarisse continued, ignoring the unhappy look on Mia’s face. “as it specifically relates to battles for the throne of Genovia.”

“There is civil war in Genovia’s history?” Mia perked up a bit.

“Of course, darling, we are not unlike other countries and have our own internal struggles just as they do.”

“I guess I never thought about it, really. Everything seems so peaceful here.”

“Well, we might not have wars for the right to rule anymore, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t conflict and struggles related to it. There just hasn’t been any blood spilled for generations thanks to an ancient pact that was signed by all the families who could possibly vie for the throne and it was binding on all future generations as well.”

“What did it say?” Mia found that she was actually getting interested. This was much better than rules of order and other mandates of law that she had been studying.

“The general spirit of the pact was that outright war to claim the throne would not be considered an avoid bloodshed. Of course, it didn’t rule out any other number of treacherous ways in which the throne has been secured over the years, but at least it avoided greater loss of life.”

“So how did one family get another family to step aside?”

“The ways in which attempts at a coup have been made vary and are as complex and devious as the human mind will develop…the end result is usually abdication. All members of the family in line for the throne would have to sign an abdication document and then those documents would each need to be stamped with the official seal of the royal family before it was considered a legal document.”

“Why would anyone do that willingly?”

Clarisse knew she had her. “Here’s a history book that will share all the sordid details.”

Mia grinned as she took the book. There was a reason her Grandmother had been able to lead Genovia successfully for so many years…she was able to get other people to do what she wanted and make them think it was what they wanted too. There was more than one lesson to be learned here tonight. “Very impressive, Gramma – very impressive.”


“I heard about what Mia said to you tonight.” Joseph said quietly as he and Clarisse took their evening walk.

“How on Earth would you know about that?” Clarisse couldn’t believe how little privacy she really had.

“The maids know everything.” He shrugged.

“Apparently they do.” She sighed.

“Do you want to talk about it?” He pressed.

“I’m not sure what there is to say…My first relationship was an arranged marriage. My second…” She hesitated, looking at him. “…has to be at such a controlled pace and maintained with such secrecy that it makes it difficult to get swept away to the point where I can’t think straight.”

“I’m sorry.” He hadn’t really meant to depress her with the conversation.

She stopped and looked into his magnificent blue eyes. “I’m the one who should apologize…I’ve never known anything but this. You, on the other hand…” She let her words drift off.

He kissed her forehead. “We’ve waited this long…I can be patient.”

‘Perhaps that is what I fear the most…as strange as it sounds, I want to be needed with such a passion that it can’t be restrained…’ The words filled her mind, but her mouth spoke. “You are truly one of a kind and I am a very fortunate woman.”

A shadowy figure watched in silence…the timing would soon be perfect. A report would be made tonight…two of the three players were in place and it was time to put phase two into action.